HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The families of the Hattiesburg police officers killed in the line of duty in May received checks Monday totaling $46,050 each.
"It's bittersweet, but to know that my family is going to be taken care of and that their home is being built, that's just something that is beyond comprehension," Dan Deen, father of fallen Officer Benjamin Deen said.
The funds came from local donations as well as donations from across the country, coordinated by the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation, The First, the City of Hattiesburg, Petro Nissan, Toyota of Hattiesburg, Kim's No Bull and WDAM-TV.
"No amount of money we could ever give you could replace your loved ones," Hattiesburg Police Chief Anthony Parker said to the families Monday.
Officer Deen's family said they are using the money to build his wife and children a new home, and Officer Liquori Tate's family said they will use it to help with travel expenses to honor police across the country.
"We honor them for putting their lives on the line," Bernell Ross, Officer Tate's stepfather, said. "They're not celebrated enough."
Two women- Tamika Mills and Pearnell Roberts- were also honored Monday for making the call for help after they heard the gun shots that killed the officers in downtown Hattiesburg on May 9.
"Normally, we are the ones who serve and protect," Chief Parker said, "but on this day, these two individuals took time out to serve and protect us."
The fund that raised money in this particular check presentation is now closed, but donations can still be given through the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation. The foundation's phone number is 601-583-6180.
Theresa Erickson, the foundation's executive director, said there is a Fallen Law Officer Hardship fund and a Pine Belt Fallen Officer Scholarship fund, which will be in place forever if a law enforcement officer is either killed in the line of duty or sustains a career-ending permanent injury in the line of duty or while acting in an official capacity.